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Old/Obscure Taxonomically Incorrect names for Animals

Discussion in 'Zoo Cafe' started by Cassidy Casuar, 17 Oct 2019.

  1. Cassidy Casuar

    Cassidy Casuar Well-Known Member

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    Technically, the most current English names for the Kokakos are the, 'Blue-wattled Crow' (for the North Island species), and the, 'Orange-wattled Crow' (for the South Island species). I think that only ancient elderly people would still call the Kokakos by those names, though. The Kokakos actually were included within the Corvidae for a while, but were never placed in the genus, Corvus.
    Apparently, 'True Bellbird', is a nickname for the North Island (extant) species.
    Another, much worse, nickname for the North Island species is, 'Monkey of the forest', which refers to its habit of running and jumping through the treetops more often than flying through them. For this reason, the North Island Kokako has also been compared to squirrels.
     
  2. Great Argus

    Great Argus Well-Known Member

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    Does "Sea Elephant" for the elephant seals count?
     
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  3. Gondwana

    Gondwana Well-Known Member

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    I'd argue that these names are not incorrect, either technically or practically. From a technical standpoint, any formal scientific name formed following the requirements of the code of zoological nomenclature (e.g., type designated, etymology provided, published, etc.) and predating other valid names for the same entity is the technically correct name for a taxon. From a practical standpoint, they were all correct according to the science of the day and most of them are still not really misleading in any way. For example, while saurus is usually translated as "lizard" there's no reason to think that ancient Greeks had the same conception of lizard that we do, and others might choose to translate the word as "reptile". The only one I'd call truly misleading is Oviraptor (though it's still not entirely clear what they ate!).

    The tricky thing here is that there's no reason a common name needs to denote a monophyletic group. Even taking account of evolutionay history, a reasonable definition of cobras would be "elapid snakes that produce a hood display", meaning king cobras qualify. Heck, that definition could even include mambas, in which case monophyly would be restored.

    Overall, there are tons of common names used for paraphyletic groups that are both unambigouous and usefully descriptive -- fish, lizard, monkey, antelope, etc. The trickier situation is when animals are not part of a named group but have that group's name as part of their name -- starfish, jellyfish, elephant shrew, etc. I personally dislike the push to change the common names used for these, but it's probably a losing battle and I suppose in a decade I'll be using sea star, jelly, and sengi without batting an eye.
     
  4. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Except that as noted, the common name does not mean "king among cobras" but "eater of cobras" and therefore makes no claims about the taxonomy of the species :p
     
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  5. Gondwana

    Gondwana Well-Known Member

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    Got me there, but I still think the king cobra makes a perfectly respectable cobra!
     
  6. Hyak_II

    Hyak_II Well-Known Member

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    WOOD PUSSIES!!

    Otherwise known to some folk as the striped skunk.
     
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  7. Great Argus

    Great Argus Well-Known Member

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    Which reminds me of Miner's Cat, actually a procyonid (Ringtail).
     
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  8. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member

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    Some from Australia. Guess what they refer to:
    • native bear
    • badger
    • spiny anteater
    • rat kangaroo
    • native cat
    The Australian magpie is not a corvid. Lots of others I can't recall right now.
     
  9. Cassidy Casuar

    Cassidy Casuar Well-Known Member

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    In New Zealand, the Tui (a honeyeater) had several short-lived English names in the early days of colonisation. The ones that I know of are, 'New Zealand Creeper', 'New Zealand Bee-eater', and, 'Bellbird' (because of the 'bell-shaped' tufts on its throat, apparently!). There was apparently also a part of New Zealand where Maori referred to the Tui as the, 'Takahe'!

    It is probable that there was a time in New Zealand wherein large Kiwis (or just Kiwis in general?) were sometimes referred to as, 'Emus'!

    In Australia, the Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike has been referred to as the, 'Blue Jay', and as the, 'Grey Jay', and in Tasmania, the Black Currawong is sometimes referred to as the, 'Black Jay'. Neither species is a corvid.

    In Australia, the Lyrebirds were at one time referred to as, 'Native Pheasants'.

    Also, there was apparently a time in which some Australians referred to the White-winged Chough as the, 'Apostlebird' (a name that is now solely used to refer to the Chough's closest living, but very different-looking, relative).
     
    Last edited: 18 Oct 2019
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  10. TinoPup

    TinoPup Well-Known Member

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    "Ringtail cat" for Ringtail, which is still used way too often today.
    "Hunting leopard" is an old name for the cheetah.
    "honey bear" for kinkajou

    The sloth bear is sort of one, it was originally believed they were related to sloths, not bears.
     
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  11. Hipporex

    Hipporex Well-Known Member

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    Fair enough. Thanks for the alternate viewpoint.

    Also I thought of some new ones
    • Fire fox for red panda
    • Koala bear for koala
    • Gelada baboon for gelada
    • Flying fox for said group of bats
    • Killer whale for orca
    • Sea dog for pinnipeds (I hear this a lot at my work)
     
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  12. TinoPup

    TinoPup Well-Known Member

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    An obvious one we all seem to have forgotten: Sea lions :)
     
  13. Cassidy Casuar

    Cassidy Casuar Well-Known Member

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    The Japanese name for the New Zealand Pipit literally translates to, 'New Zealand Lark', which strikes me as confusing. Japan has both Larks and Motacillids, and the Japanese words for, 'Lark', and, 'Pipit/Wagtail', are very different from each other.
     
  14. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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    By reading the name Mountain chicken one could think a bird is ment but as most of us will know, this isn't the case.
     
  15. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

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    Remember the wise words of Wild Bill Shakespeare, 'A rose by any other name would smell as sweet'.
    Names are just labels after all. The people who originally gave species their names generally knew next to nothing about taxonomy. Think about Linnaeus who was naming species as he developed his basic ideas about taxonomy - and as he was really a botanist, he put together some very strange associations of animal species. But it doesn't really matter, as long as you can make other people identify the animal you are talking about. If you don't like the name of species X, find an alternative (many species have two names, some have more) or seek out its name in the native language of the local people or practise your scientific Latin and Greek etc.
    I can't see a Rhinecanthus aculeatus without mentally reciting its Hawaiian name (humuhumu-nukunuku-a-pu'a) and feeling the better for it: then I can wonder why Pablo Picasso put into one of paintings - perhaps he wanted people to call it the Picasso triggerfish, or perhaps it was an importer of tropical fishes who thought a classy name would let him charge a bit more for his stock.
     
  16. Cassidy Casuar

    Cassidy Casuar Well-Known Member

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    I can't believe that I forgot about this one until now, but I can't stand the fact that King Quails are very commonly referred to as, 'Button Quails', in the pet trade.
    It has probably made life a lot harder for people who want actual Buttonquails as aviary birds.
     
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  17. Dassie rat

    Dassie rat Well-Known Member

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    The Bombay duck isn't a waterfowl.
     
  18. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    o_O
     
  19. Cassidy Casuar

    Cassidy Casuar Well-Known Member

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    'Water Rat', is an alternate name for both the European Water Vole and Rattus norvegicus.
     
  20. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Also a name used for the Australian native rodent Hydromys chrysogaster too (only aware of that due to visiting the ZSL nocturnal house).